Brave Girl, Chapter One

author’s note: this poem has elements of magic (entirely attributed to evil in the poem) that serve as metaphors in the story. What those metaphors are…is entirely up to you to interpret. But this story is meant to outline the journey from abuse, heartbreak, and trials to understanding and redemption.

Brave Girl,

She walked a path for miles

a path of brick and stone

tree limbs bending downwards

green leaves overgrown

Along the path she met a Lad

His eyes were cloudy grey

His hair was red and brown,

Yet glinted golden in the day

They linked arms and began to walk,

new love bubbling from their easy talk,

Easier and easier they began to be,

Walking over mountains and valleys,

and along the pale shores of the sea.

Within his eyes Girl saw her life,

And he promised with words that he would stay

So with fingers entwined like wanton vines,

They cast their doubts away.

One day on Girl’s hand,

Lad placed a glass band

that sparkled with his love

And with eyes wet and smiles wide,

The promised Groom and promised Bride

Both thanked God above.

But as years flit by, as dragonflies do,

the Girl began to doubt,

For as much as he was there with her

She began to feel without,

Girl felt love like burning fire

but began to fear her young Lad’s ire.

He said with words he loved her much,

And would never leave her side,

But often swatted away her touch,

And became defensive of his pride.

The path became no longer smooth,

It jutted rock and stone,

And though their discomfort she tried to soothe

Lad’s confidence was thrown.

He stumbled over root and stone,

Due to attention little paid,

When stifled by vines overgrown,

Refused the young Girl’s aid,

At last, for fear, there came a day,

When Lad’s color began to abate

His eyes and hair, his skin so fair,

Met the mirthless bite of fate.

For Lad lost hope,

and could not cope

with Girl or path no more,

And through the trees, he spied a space

And left through it like a door.

Girl cried tears bittersweet

For she knew she could not follow,

And though in her chest, her heart still beat

She knew within was hollow.

Girl felt a cold, thin vice,

upon her cold, thin hand

And looked upon with grief

At Lad’s still-sparkling band.

Girl continued on the rocky trail,

But often sat to weep,

Whispering his name brought no avail,

and memory’s wounds were deep.

But her grief was woven

with a stronger thread than she,

One night it drew an evil coven,

Of curious witches three.

Cackling, they asked her,

“What hath befallen thee?”

Girl jumped and walked much faster

So frightened now was she,

“We know the burden of your heart!”

Called the three magicians,

“Fear us not, let us help you,

For we are but mere physicians.”

But Girl kept her stride

And said “I have no money, nor trust for witches.”

And the witches, cackling, gleefully replied

“We offer only aid and have no use for riches.”

Girl then stopped and turned to face the Three,

For her heart was but pain and anguish,

And an end she could not see.

“What aid you offer, O stalking witches?

And what your price, then, if not riches?”

The witches laughed with victorious glee,

And at our Girl did smile,

“We wish to end your suffering,

And bring back your Lad a while.”

“Lad?” Girl cried, “How can you know?

Lad, who hath hurt me so?”

“My dear sweet Girl, your tale we know,

It hath been spun, so long ago.

It is an age-old tale, timeless and grand,

Our price, sweet Girl, is your sparkling band.”

Girl thought she felt a warning in her heart

Though Lad was no longer there with her,

With the band she should not part,

“Your band, my dear, is what we seek,

If it is Lad that you desire,

For the path does not favor the weak,

And companion-less made dire.”

Girl felt a pull inside her soul,

And Lad came to her mind,

His smile that had made her whole,

A love impossible to find.

“A question, witches, if ask I may,

before I give my band away?”

The witches looked at the sparkling ring

with hunger in their eyes,

“My dear, sweet girl, ask anything,

Anything that rests your mind.”

“What use have you of this sparkling treasure?

It is but mere memory,

It has no value beyond its measure,

For its meaning is known only to me.”

“Worry not of these things!

It is that which we require.

Forget your sentiments of that ring!

And we will bring you the one whom you desire!”

So with care she slipped the band away,

Off her cold, thin hand,

She gripped it, shining, in her palms a moment,

then gave away her band.

But the wind blew then,

a cold, strong, gust

That blew the band to the rocky ground,

and shattered it to dust.

Horrified and terrified, Girl began to retreat,

But the witches gathered around her,

And with vines  tied her hands and feet

“I cannot explain this! Let me go!”

Cried the Girl, fighting against the biting vines,

“I cannot explain it! I do not know!”

But the witches cared not for Girl’s cries and pleas,

they tightened the bonds and pinned her body

to the trunk of a leafless tree.

“Liar! Traitor! Deceptive thing!

We want the band, or you’ll dearly pay!

Repair that sparkling, shining ring,

Or we’ll cut your Lad’s head away!”

“It was a gift of mere glass,

No value had it, but sentiment!

I cannot repair the shattered thing,

You must accept its detriment!”

The witches gathered to consider this fact,

The band was gone, shattered to dust,

But the girl was whole and young and brave,

To claim her youth, kill her they must!

The witches, seething, drew a long knife,

Crooked and forked, and dripping dark red,

“If you wish to save Lad, you’ll pay with your life!

“Either pay with your blood, or we take his head.”

Girl trembled in fear against the tree,

And shutting her eyes she tried to see,

One last, precious memory…

End of Chapter One.

Nesha Usmani

2013

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Sunday

Sunday came,

and with it rose a slow, bright sun.

Dragging rays of exhaustion over cities,

over houses, over beds,

and over her.

And she awoke with heavy-hearted fatigue

that kept her body still,

but her mind in a frenzy of thoughts

and regrets.

Her eyes were wet and red

and her head pounded with a rhythm

of having slept fitfully.

Nightmarish beings wrapped their cold,

bony fingers around her heart

and squeezed.

Crushed it, stabbed it with the thorny past

that’s come back to haunt her.

She rubs her hands together,

and remembers the way you held them

You didn’t know

And she didn’t tell you,

but when you held them,

You were keeping the nightmares away.

You were holding all of her together,

and you kept the darkness at bay,

By the grace of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful,

you were the brightest star in her darkest sky.

Nesha Usmani

On the outskirts of chaos you’ll find them,rising

Image

Trossachs National Park, Scotland

On the outskirts of chaos you’ll find them,

rising out of the earth in greens and browns and greys.

And in their presence they demand of you two things,

respect for one, and the other; reflection.

It’s not as if you haven’t seen them before but the reminder

they give never gets old.

There, in the quiet. the giants sleep.

Immobile and grand

patient and forgiving.

And therein the reminder rings louder than

the calls of the gulls by the cliff,

Patient, grand, forgiving.

Forever there.

There, in the quiet, truth enters the heart.

Not creation, but the Creator.

Allahu Akbar.

Allahu Akbar.

 

Nesha Usmani

6/30/2013

Sunce Moje

You have bled into me,

Like the day which bleeds into night,

The change is subtle at first,

But, indeed, I blink

And the world is brighter.

From black dusted with stars,

The corners begin to turn

A blue that only time can provide.

Time and the natural order of things.

A darker blue, like your eyes

Is shot through suddenly

With a plume of pink

Like sweet kisses before the sun’s arrival.

It bids the moon farewell,

With warm orange hands that pierce the blue.

And I still see the stars, twinkling, reminding me,

I give a last respectful nod before my eyes begin to water,

Everything has turned bright.

Gold, like your hair.

Warm, like your heart.

Slowly, surely, making its way to the top

Is the sun,

And I feel my heart rise.

Sunce moje.

Nesha Usmani

4AM Arguing.

you say you know what I feel

and yet, your silences suggest otherwise.

Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s not “all about me”,

But even you can’t deny the difference

between a two sentence (or ten sentence) text

and looking at each other.

I do wonder if you think I’m not one,

but two people.

How I wish you knew the weight of

what I’ve chosen to leave behind,

Before you, not for you.

For God, and the sake of my soul.

I have expressed to you,

the weight of my heart,

and the fire of my hope,

I have given it to you,

that you cannot deny.

It could be everything, you know.

It could be more than enough.

And I hate when you say things

that make me feel like you’re settling,

when other times, I know, or at least I think,

that you feel like you’ve struck gold.

I’m a tall order and sometimes I just feel like

I’m getting taller (to you).

But all these things might feel different

with your hand in mine.

Who knows? Only God.

I hope you know how much

I want you to stay.

Volim te.

Nesha Usmani

Reaching

Time pushes forward

But, she looks back.

Her heart fills with tears and love,

Bittersweet,

And she hopes he might drink from it.

as one would a glass of water.

But time pushes forward,

and in so doing,

pulls him away from her,

Her outstretched hand remains empty,

her fingertips cold.

Nesha Usmani

The Walk

With hands clasped together, they walked;

Their shoes leaving deep prints in the mud.

Upon reaching a crossroads, they stopped,

And, between them, small white puffs of

breath gathered and scattered, like

regret which comes and goes as it pleases.

Above them, birds sang,

Reminding them that life, indeed,

does not depend on the severity of

their loss, not on their hearts’ painful

breaking, healing, and breaking again.

But for the moment, both were content

to drop the world, if for another gaze

in the other’s eyes,

Another moment of laughter, or a moment of love.

But neither had the heart to find Hope.

The reason for their parting suddenly

became unclear, unreal, impossible.

But to bring again the storm of questioning

was no longer something they could do.

They let go.

One more look back, and then another, and again

until each had gone from sight.

But with them walked the other’s Absence.

Absence, the silent emptiness left behind,

the delicate perfume left in a lover’s wake.

And with them Absence walked, a tireless presence;

relentless and stubborn in its demand for attention,

who walked until both had the strength to leave it behind.

Another companion joined. And this was Memory.

A strange fellow, who showed only the bright, iridescent facets

of love the two shared,

and often conveniently stood in front of the darkness, the blemishes.

But Memory grew and evolved with them, and matured

and eventually became a part of Love.

Love, the unseen, unheard companion

who had taken root inside their hearts.

And only when the time came, only when Absence

had been abandoned,

Only when Memory had infused with it (Love),

did Love reveal itself.

Bloomed within them like a whispered comfort,

a warmth against their frigid flesh,

And they knew that they had indeed loved each other well.

And within that comfort, a spark was lit

And this companion was Prayer.

And Prayer had come to find Hope.

Nesha Usmani